Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Old Postcard Wednesday--Morris High School, (Bronx) New York

Following school review found at Education Index:
Morris High School
1110 Boston Rd.
Bronx, NY 104565390

Submitted by: Howard     I'm a: Former Student     Date: 10/10/2009

PASA LA BOLA! - I attended Morris High from 1962-1964 and as a teenage Jamaican immigrant I don't think the culture shock could not have been better facilitated anywhere else - The school was truly integrated - The whole Morrisania section of the Bronx was truly integrated in a strange way. Hispanics were in one section, Orthodox Jews in another and Black people,not African Americans,but Black People were in another. At School there was one Black female teacher with a Jewish last name,which escapes me now, and she taught English LIT. The classrooms were totally integrated and taught by a host of Ethnicities. Dr. Albert Schweitzer was the Principal. Mr.Fiore(Civics&Photography) Mr.Lieken(Spanish),Mr.Balough,(Gym)Mr. Kalish and Mr Von Kemp were the Deans of Boys. Dr. Albert Schweitzer was prncipal, Miss Rotolo(Math.)Mr Herbert Miller Music(Jr. Band)etc., etc., etc. The Lunchroom was not except for the area where the Soccer team sat. At our table There were German,Russian,Hispanic and a potpourri students from all over the caribbean to include Antigua, Jamaica, Martinique,St.Kitts, and Trinidad. It would blow my mind when I listend to the Russian and the German conversing fluently in a language I couldn't readily identify at the time. When I inquired about their ability to communicate they explained that their journey to America had brought them from their native land through a few different countries one of which was Brazil and they were conversing in Portuguese. The cry on the soccer field among all of us was PASA LA BOLA a phrase we constantly heard from Mejia who was from Guatemala, I think. No classroom education was better than what I learned in the lunchroom and on the Soccer field while attending Morris if you get my drift. By the way our coach's name was MR. Dreben(hope I spelled it right)- Thank You Morris and PASA LA BOLA!

Varied sites I visited to learn about the history of Morris High School gave the same link to the current website ( However, I have been unable to access the site and have no way of knowing if it is no longer functional or perhaps is currently undergoing construction. I decided to note it here in the event that it will be active in the future. If not, it only serves to highlight the strangely disparate information I have found about this school and building. Below, I highlighted pieces that provide some variations of information.

Morris High School was a high school in the borough of the Bronx in New York City. It was built in 1897. It was the first high school built in the Bronx. Originally named Peter Cooper High School, the name was changed to Morris High School to commemorate a famous Bronx landowner, Gouverneur Morris, one of the signers of the United States Constitution and credited as author of its Preamble. Morris High School was one of the original New York City Public High Schools created by the New York City school reform act of 1896. In 1983, the school and surrounding area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Morris High School Historic District.

Some of its famous alumni include former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, United States Attorney Benito Romano, historian Vincent Harding, inventor Peter Karter, Representative Frank A. Oliver, television journalist Gabe Pressman, and newspaper columnist Victor Riesel.

In 2002, as part of an overall restructuring and downsizing of New York City's high schools, Morris High School was closed and the building renamed the Morris Campus. It now houses five small specialty high schools: High School for Violin and Dance, Bronx Leadership Academy 2, Bronx International High School, the School for Excellence, and the Morris Academy for Collaborative Study.  [Source: Wikipedia]

Morris High School opened in 1897 as the Mixed High School and was the first public high school in the Bronx. The school moved into its current Collegiate Gothic building in 1904, which is one of the masterpieces of the New York City school architect, Charles B. J. Snyder. The auditorium (now Duncan Hall), a high church-like space with a balcony, is perhaps the finest interior in any city school. The room contains elaborate Gothic plasterwork, steel-ribbed vaults set within Tudor arches, stained-glass windows, and a pipe organ facade. It is decorated with several murals, most prominently the French artist August Gorguet's monumental 1926 World War I memorial entitled After Conflict Comes Peace. In 1982, the auditorium interior was designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The New York City School Contruction Authority restored the auditorium in 1991. The historic building’s exterior facade and auditorium, along with the surrounding avenues, are part of the Morris High School Historic District.

Notable alumni include: Judith Crist, Film Critic; Armand Hammer, Industrialist; David Lerner, Investment Banker; Colin Powell, Former U.S. Secretary of State; Gabe Pressman, NBC-TV anchorman; Carlos Rivera, Former Fire Commissioner; Henry Santos, singer with ‘Aventura’.
[Source: New York City American Guild of Organists website, in an article about a 1924 contract that was awarded to the M.P. Möller company for the repair and rebuilding of the existing 1904 Kimball organ (apparently located on the Morris High School campus).]

New York Times  Jan. 12, 2012, 12:08 p.m.
By Anna M. Phillips

12:24 p.m. | Updated As rain and wind battered the Morris high school campus on Thursday morning, students said they were excited to have a prominent guest in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has chosen the school’s auditorium as the delivery point for his State of the City address.

“I think it’s cool that out of all the schools, he comes to ours and shows us some love,” said Joshua Mendez, a student at Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies, who said he hoped to watch the mayor’s 1 p.m. address today.

While the mayor’s staff has kept the content of his speech a closely held secret, the location has led some to speculate that education policy will be prominently mentioned.

Morris High School, which opened in 1897, was the first public school in the Bronx, but was closed in 2005 for poor performance. Four small high schools currently occupy the Gothic school building on Boston Road.

Another Morris Academy student, Jefferson Henry, said he had a wish list for the mayor.

“I think he should let us get more computers that actually work, instead of like the regular stuff that don’t work good,” he said. “And I think we need more staff because sometimes the classes get pretty big and if we could have two teachers, that would be good too.”

Students at another high school in the building, the High School for Violin and Dance, said that while two of their classmates had been chosen to meet the mayor, the majority of them would be out of the building on field trips.

Atisha Myers, 17, said the school’s senior class was being taken to see “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.” Younger students are being taken to a museum, she said.

Natalie Ravitz, spokeswoman for the city Education Department, said before the city announced the location of the mayor’s speech, 38 sophomores and juniors had been scheduled to attend a trip to the Hall of Science. She said about 20 seniors were also attending a movie as part of a semester-end reward system. 
[Source: NY Times - Schoolbook]
NOTE: There is a great close-up shot of the outside of the building featured in this NY Times link above.

I enjoyed these two short videos that provide some insight into the current Morris Campus. The first is a student performance at the 2003 Morris Talent Show, and the second is an interview with one of the math teachers at Morris.

Math for America Master Teacher Lisa Cover talks about her experience
teaching math and opportunities available through the MfA Master Teacher Fellowship.
Lisa teaches geometry at the Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies in Bronx, NY.

Also of note, there is an impressive website for Morris High School alumni, including search for lost friends, online viewing of old yearbooks, and MHS merchandise, that is separate from



Deborah said...

This is just so interesting Lydia, a real glimpse into that postcard.

Hattie said...

Talk about living through the changes! Fascinating.

Mama Zen said...

This is really interesting!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

The first thing that strikes me is how in the USA you say Math as a shorterner for Mathematics, and in the UK we say Maths

Small difference I know, but intriguing nonetheless.

I went to a school that was a former family home of a wealthy industrialist - well, the central core of it anyway. The Old Hall, where all the English lessons were held was the house and the rest of it was all new school buildings. There were all sorts of stories and rumours about the school being haunted by the ghost of a maid, but it turned out that they were pretty much all the invention of one particular teacher

Anyway, the Bronx is another word that invokes images for us in the UK - I guess i'm thinking about hip-hop music and a very built up area, so seeing this old and rather grand school is very interesting

Lydia said...

Deborah~ I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Hattie~ I know! What a history the school has!

Mama Zen~ So glad you liked!

Pixies~ Maths. How about that?! It really is a slight but very interesting difference.
Your school, with its Old Hall, sounds like something from a movie or novel. It astonishes me that a teacher would talk up a haunting story. What a quirky sort that teacher must have been!

The Bronx conjures up the same images for me, mainly, as I remember seeing the housing-upon-housing, very bleak-looking. This old postcard does give a glimpse into another era...but I was surprised that there were 3000 students even back then (and by "back then" I mean early 1900s because this is from my grandmother's collection when they lived in NY).

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

His name was Mr Hoare, and he was a very dramatic English teacher - i think he got a lot of fun from scaring the bejeesus out of the first year students



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